Continued Positivity

Continued Positivity

Dear Friend

I hope that you have been enjoying the overdue and most welcome early summer weather.  Well, things have continued positively – and still, in many regards, too positively in some areas.  We have to be careful and slightly cautious though as I have repeated many times, we are avoiding the seriously over-priced areas supported by the masses anyway.  May has passed without event so the superstition of ‘sell in May and go away’ won’t be borne out… yet at least!  I don’t want to be pessimistic, but we are overdue a correction – which I’d see as a healthy event especially if it rebased some of the silly over-priced things.

Charitable Donations

Some years ago, we created an endowment fund with Devon Community Foundation.  I am pleased to say that this year’s applications can now be considered so if you represent an eligible organisation, may I encourage you to consider applying?  

The funds cannot cover capital projects as such but otherwise, within our geographical remit, many projects can be considered and we’d be delighted to support them – the more the merrier to be frank!  The total available from this scheme this year is just over £4,000.


It is becoming harder to find uncorrelated assets for diversification and also risk mitigation.  We have held a direct Coffee investment for some time now and that troughed at 65p in June and has now just broached £1, a mere 54% gain for a defensive asset (as it was at such a low level when reviewing the longer-term) and after all, we are ‘value’ investors not trendy momentum players.  Still, that is still 81% below its elevated April 2011 level!  Uranium looks interesting and we’re adding a  little bit but that’s bizarre to buy but this vulture who likes to pounce on things when they are really out of favour is finding it harder – but not impossible I have to say (but I am not sharing all our secrets!).

Talking of coffee, thank you to those who turned-up on the Charity’s invitation to the Coffee and Chat at Trimstone on Wednesday.  Helen is repeating these every Wednesday so if you’d like to come please do as you’ll be most welcome!  See below for more details.

Job Opportunities

We are always willing to speak to interested and interesting individuals who may like a role in our great Firm.  In more instances than not, a role often works around the candidate and not the other way around and if you’d like to join us what are your skills?

We have just added two specific roles to the vacancies, a marketing/PR and IT person and also an administration assistant (but based at Trimstone).  Do have a look here! 

Even if you are working or advising elsewhere or running your own business (or even if you need to relocate to beautiful North Devon), do have a  look as there are opportunities and we have the space!


I have said many times that a ‘Value’ strategy can often lead to additional gains from takeovers.  We have had far more than our fair share these last few years and yet another, Vectura, has just succumbed to a bid too and the shares have jumped by a third.  That adds just over £500,000 to aggregate client valuations.  We have been waiting some while for activity in this pharmaceutical company but cannot complain when this happens.  The money realised will be recycled into more ‘similar’ situations.  Our next newsletter promises our clients that over the next few years they will enjoy several more such corporate bonuses.  Why?  Because if the markets themselves do not more suitably recognise the under-valued situations, then other companies or bidding predators will and they’ll not just buy a few shares – they take the lot.

Dealing With Estates

I have just encountered the worst case of dealing with an estate I have seen – or certainly for a long time. This was dealt-with by a solicitor in rural Wales and the deceased being an elderly lady from London, who clearly had relied upon the connection as the ‘family solicitor’ to do a good and trusted job.  The real problem, with such law firms it seems, is that frankly there is so little accountability and so little recourse at all.  I really could write a book on the disgraceful behaviour in this instance – the arrogance, the failure to respond to simple enquiries on behalf of beneficiaries, not distributing £240,000 to those beneficiaries for over two years after the capital was received and so it goes on and I fear too the Inheritance Tax was miscalculated till I noted their mistakes.  I think the worst scenario too is the charges they have levied – and incurred with an overseas’ firm too (whereby possibly wise pre-death advice could have ensured the matter never had to arise in the first place) so that ‘professional fees’ gobbled-up something like 8% of the total net estate of roughly £500,000.  There were no reasons whatsoever why interim distributions could not have been made to the beneficiaries and there won’t be any interest or investment return on that capital (which has still not arrived).

Just who have you appointed as your executor?  Please think twice before your affairs are treated with such disdain as this one – this is not the first such instance we have encountered either and sadly, it seems legal firms are usually amongst the worst and their regulator and the Legal Services Ombudsman is toothless too and a waste of time, to be frank. (Of course most such estates are to do with investments these days and not ‘law’ either so how many lawyers acting have specialist investment qualifications to help them know what to do when they are appointed? As trustees of the estate they have a legal responsibility to manage the investments but how many do that, let alone having he capacity to do it?).  I really don’t want to think like that.  However, when I also consider the professionalism and care with which our Estates Team deals with the cases before us – let alone the fair charging structure and guidance for beneficiaries if and as required, I really do wonder what on earth the legal profession is doing as it shouldn’t be tolerating these sorts of practices from within its ranks.  And of course, not every lawyer is like this and there are some much better ones – there are some great firms out there and many solicitors I call friends and we have as clients too.  Tell us your stories so we can report on those too – good or bad!  However, remember, you do not need a lawyer to act when dealing with estates and probate.

Cheap Funds – Index Trackers

An interesting report has shown that many tracker funds cost much more than their headline rates suggest.  As they have to keep selling and buying assets to replicate the indices they track (or to financially compensate artificially for the index), the costs involved in undertaking those transactions can often be far more than the headline ‘management fees’.  The Sunday Telegraph did a survey and found that the highest UK fund was incurring almost four times the ‘management fee’ in transaction charges a year!  In 2020 with such volatility and significantly increased investor withdrawals, the brokerage costs rocketed and so those in such passive funds paid the price from elevated transaction costs.  Oddly enough, these ‘cheap options’ don’t tend to highlight these extras!

Coffee and Company

Have you been missing meeting with others?  Are you apprehensive about starting-up a social life again?  We have all had many things to contend with over the past year or so.  Lockdown has left many of us of all ages feeling somewhat isolated and now that some semblance of normality is returning, we may feel worried about going out and mixing with other people.

Philip J Milton and Company Plc Charitable Foundation wants to help.  At Trimstone Manor Country House Hotel, Trimstone, near Ilfracombe, we are hosting weekly “Coffee and Company” mornings every Wednesday for anyone who’d like to meet up with some others. We meet from 10.30-12.  Just drop by!  You’ll be welcome!  Please be assured we follow the rules to keep everyone safe. If it’s nice we meet outside too!  Such socialising has been proven to help keep our brains sharp too and with the routines having been much more mundane over the last year or so, it’s time to change things!

You don’t have to tell us in advance but if you wish to do so, let us know on 01271 862841 or email  but don’t worry if you haven’t told us in advance – just turn up!

These are all free events, sponsored by us, with our pleasure and no, we are not seeking donations or anything, but the works of the Charity will be there for anyone who is interested.

We hope to see you there and achieving our simple aim of reaching out, bringing in and joining up!  

Helen L Milton Trustee and Director


What is it?  Too many have no idea now about what that means…  we’re not necessarily talking about the Weimar Republic and buying a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow of cash but the Fed has just announced that its preferred measure of ‘inflation’ has hit the highest level since 1992.  Why could that be worrying and what are you doing about it?  You really do need to consider all your various financial provisions to make sure at least that you have a chance of keeping-up with what could be happening…  we are keeping a wary eye on things – as our clients would expect naturally!

Risk Warning

Stock market investments can offer income through the payment of dividends and interest and good opportunities for capital appreciation over the longer term. By this, generally we mean periods in excess of five years, preferably much longer. However, we can never promise you particular returns, especially in the short-term. At any point in time but especially in the short term, your capital could be worth less than the original amount invested as some of the selected holdings may fall in value, regardless of expectations at the time of acquisition. We may also invest in funds that hold overseas securities. The value of these investments may increase or decrease as a result of changes in currency exchange rates. Returns achieved in the past cannot be relied upon to be repeated.

To remind you, why do I send out occasional emails? Because everyone can save money. We have no connection with any companies mentioned and you have to make your own contacts and satisfy your own enquiries. What is in it for us? If we can prove that we are knowledgeable and that our service and advice have good value, then you might contact us for professional financial planning and investment help. You don’t have to do that though and there’s no charge for emails. If simply they save you money, then accept them with our compliments! However, you’ll know where we are!

If you have any queries of any form or indeed any subjects you think I could include, please contact me. I also refer you to our website We celebrate our 35th anniversary in 2020 and have been publishing a well-respected independent column in the local Paper for most of that time and free client newsletters as well.

Do not forget however the usual caveats – this is not ‘advice’ and you are encouraged to seek that before embarking upon any financial route involving investments, etc.

My best wishes

Philip J Milton DipFS CFPCM Chartered MCSI FPFS FCIB
Chartered Wealth Manager
Fellow Of The Personal Finance Society, Fellow Of The Chartered Institute Of Bankers